Some years ago, two friends and I were hiking in the Dolomites in Italy. Just a few steps up the trail, my friends sped up and left me behind. Unhelpfully, my thoughts began circling around the question, “Why me?” Suddenly, I stumbled, twisted my ankle, and fell.
When my friends and I reconnected and got back to the hotel, I recognized that I had to change my self-focused thinking. When things don’t turn out well, we can’t turn our back on God, good. I had experienced before that God’s ever-present grace is sufficient to help in all kinds of situations.
The Bible mentions the word “grace” over 150 times. Multiple letters that the Apostle Paul wrote open with this greeting: “Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul also urges followers not to dismiss the gift of God’s grace.
Paul’s own life points to the power of God’s grace. One day, as he walked along the road to Damascus, despite his previous cruelty to followers of Christ Jesus, he discovered God’s grace, right there, saving him. It was the start of a new sense of higher purpose to serve God, divine Love, and preach the message of Christ.
The discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, described receptivity to grace as essential: “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 4). The desire to express such qualities enhances spiritual growth, but how do we practice grace during difficult situations?
One way is to regard a problem as an opportunity to affirm and prove that there is no other legitimate power besides God, good. When we listen for the Christ-message of God’s loving presence that God is constantly delivering to us as His beloved offspring, we gain the inspiration needed to work through a difficulty of our own or to help others. Accepting Christ, divine Truth, is growing in grace. And as we yield to God’s gracious all-goodness, we realize healing. As Science and Health explains, “Grace and Truth are potent beyond all other means and methods” (p. 67).
So there in my hotel room, for about an hour I reached out to God in prayer. However, the pain in my ankle didn’t let up, and when I hobbled to the bathroom, my other foot stepped on a splinter. The thought came, “Oh, no, not another painful problem.”
But this actually made me laugh out loud, not because the situation was humorous, but because I realized that I didn’t need to wallow in self-pity and drama. Jesus healed problems with spiritual authority, and taught that anyone who follows his teachings and example can, too. The inspiration from my prayers earlier enabled me to compose myself, and I successfully removed the splinter.
Soon my friends brought me dinner, and their graciousness reminded me that we each express God’s grace in our own way. This understanding brought me relief and comfort, and I found I could easily forgive them for having gone ahead on the trail earlier. By the end of dinner, the ankle pain and swelling had lessened.
Then I found myself worrying about the next day. We would be driving for hours, and our rental car was a stick shift, so both of my feet would need to be strong to use the brake and the clutch. What if I couldn’t do my part to help with the driving?
Throughout the night, I continued praying to God. There’s a hymn in the “Christian Science Hymnal” that begins:
They who seek the throne of grace,
Find that throne in every place:
If we live a life of prayer,
God is present everywhere.
(Oliver Holden, No. 341)
To me, a “throne of grace” is a place of elevated, divinely inspired thought. Through prayerful, spiritual listening, my thought was lifted from fear to trusting in divine Truth’s loving care, and a conviction that I could go forward with God’s grace.
When I woke the next morning, I could walk normally, and I drove all day with freedom and joy. The healing was complete, and when we arrived at our destination, I silently thanked God.
We are all capable of experiencing God’s amazing grace, which heals and unifies.
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